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  African Union Comment

The Task Ahead for the Pan African Parliament

Posted: 2009-11-09
From: Mathaba
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Message from the General Secretary of the African Unification Front

28th October 2009

Today the second legislature of the Pan African Parliament opened its first ordinary session, beginning a new 5-year mandate. This legislature may last its full term of five years... however, I am hoping that they will make rapid progress and put in place an African Electoral Commission and call for general elections for members of the PAP before the five-year term is over.

Attended the opening of the second parliament, Jacob Zuma, president of the AU republic of South Africa gave a brilliant speech calling for the PAP to be given full legislative powers and its members elected by universal suffrage. The speech was a reaffirmation of what the AUF has been calling for now over the last few years. The future of the PAP is the most important issue facing Africa at this time. Without the empowerment of this sacred and pivotal institution, no other problems in Africa can be resolved.

Zuma's speech is particularly important because the PAP has been hampered in the past, and is facing an illegitimate review by the Assembly of Heads of State - instigated by some members of the AU Commission - that could have resulted in scrapping the PAP altogether. Zuma's speech has put the PAP in a stronger position. The idea that the AU Commission or the AU Assembly of Heads of State can create another authority to do the work of governing Africa, instead of the parliament, now has a renewed movement to contend with... but we have still to work hard so that the PAP becomes the government for Africa, rather than other unelected bodies run by bureaucrats and despots.

A general election for the PAP will give the PAP greater legitimacy and enable the rational reorganization of the African political system. We cannot continue to service 54 armies and even more paramilitary groups and non-statutory armies, 54 separate currencies, over 70 state and regional bureaucracies and public services, and a larger number of treaty obligations under international law, that are all uncoordinated and whose guardians report to no one in particular.

Africa is losing billions of dollars annually in revenues by maintaining multiple and incoherent standards for everything that goes on between different states... money that could go to conflict management, social services, health or environment, is being spent on unproductive militaries and bureaucracies that are enforcing wasteful and contradictory policies. Every foreign government and corporation in the EU or NATO or the Middle East and in other places, is running projects in Africa that are not only at odds with each other, but with African interests as well. The US Africa Command is particularly troubling given the fact it continues to ignore resolutions passed by the last parliament condemning the establishment of US military bases in Africa - this in addition to various past OAU treaties stating the same.

Let us keep in mind that the greatest danger in any movement, is always at the moment when success is within arms-reach. Making unity and parliamentarism central to the struggle for African freedom and rights, has been the right strategy. We have made profound gains... yet success has come at great personal cost to many AUF leaders. We have to remain focussed and not to compromise our commitment to the principles and methods we have fought so hard to uphold. The reforms that we seek have great value not just for Africa, but for the rest of the world as well.

The social, economic and political problems facing Africans - and the rest of the world - are growing more urgent daily, and without a functional and empowered PAP things will only get worse faster. We have an interesting five years ahead of us, in this term of the PAP, and hopefully, by the time its over, Africa will be a fully functional federation, and AUF members will be sitting in the Pan African Parliament, voting to undo the damage of the last few centuries.

In the meantime - over the course of the next year - the AUF has the task to build itself into an electable governing party with a stronger organization and the means to run a strong campaign and attract voters to our cause. The good will exists in the public and the media, to listen to our message. Over the years we have been lucky and effective in maintaining discipline and in persuading decision-makers to make the changes that are benefitting millions of people. Lets us continue to support parliamentary reforms, universal suffrage and all the things that go into making Africa a safer, united and more prosperous nation.

Keep the hope alive. The struggle continues.

Dan Kashagama
General Secretary
African Unification Front
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